Thursday, June 2, 2011
MILDRED ESTHER VAN DEUSEN MATHEWS (1898-1996)
Mildred E. Van Deusen studied Economics, Sociology and History at Mt. Holyoke College and received her BA in 1920. She married Carl E. Mathews (1896-195?) in 1922 and entered library work in 1926 at the South Manchester (CT) Public Library.
Mildred E. Mathews entered the NYPL Training Class in 1929 and soon was appointed to an entry-level position in NYPL’s Circulation Department. She also graduated from Columbia University’s School of Library Service in 1931.
Mildred Mathews early work at NYPL was as a Reference & School specialist. In 1933 her supervisor at the Hunt’s Point Branch praised Mathews’ reference work as “a rare combination of personal poise and charm with professional competency.” Mathews importance at NYPL, however, was not as a reference specialist, but instead she made her mark in adult education and adult services.
Mildred V.D. Mathews was promoted to Branch Librarian at the Hamilton Grange Branch in 1936 and later headed the Yorkville Branch, 1944-1945. In 1945-1946, Mathews served as head of the Reader’s Advisers Office.
In 1946 Mathews became the first head of NYPL’s newly organized Office of Adult Services. This was a significant new approach at NYPL. Work with children and with schools had been systematized since 1906, but NYPL had never had a specialty focused on adults. In 1945, the Chief of the Circulation Department reported that adult services “has always been an obvious weak spot in our organization”. Mathews was chosen to organize the Adult Services unit in 1946 and held that position until her retirement in 1953.
Soon after her retirement, Mathews and her husband took a freighter trip around the world. When they returned they retired to Maine. Mathews did resume library work at the School of Nursing Library at the Maine Medical Center, 1958-1970.
Today would be the 113th birthday of Mildred Mathews.